Theatre Review - Disruption

Andrew Stein’s smart play about artificial intelligence is as suave and brutal is its central character. Tech entrepreneur Nick (Oliver Alvin Wilson) presents his oldest friends with his next big idea: an algorithm that uses data to build up a complex portrait of their needs in order to guide them through major life decisions.

Three couples, all New Yorkers, meet Nick and his new business partner Raven (Sasha Desouza-Willock), for dinner in Tribeca. In their late thirties and facing some life changing choices, Nick encourages them to invest in order to make money quickly and painlessly.

He pretends he’s doing his friends a favour, but gradually we realise Nick and the ruthless Raven, the mastermind behind the algorithm, are using them as an experiment. The pair are willing to go to any lengths to prove the tech really works.

Ben (Nathaniel Curtis) wants a baby but Suzie (Debbie Korley) mistrusts his reasons. Mia (Rosanna Hyland) is desperate to buy a Brooklyn Brownstone while her husband Barry (Kevin Shen) worries they’ll be saddled with unmanageable dept. Paul (Nick Read) has a roving eye and is more interested in his career than mending his broken marriage to Jill (Mika Simmons).

Nick exploits what he knows about his friends as he attempts to control their decisions. All the while he suggests he can enhance their lives, while disrupting them.

It’s slickly staged by Hersh Ellis. I loved Zoe Hurwitz’s clever design, Daniel Denton’s video projections and Robbie Butler’s evocative lighting. A few lines were swallowed through poor projection, but most of the actors give top notch performances and I was absorbed from beginning to end.  

Stein deals with the ethical implications that arise from the development of AI, but you don’t need any specialist knowledge to enjoy this accessible, rewarding and unsettling drama.

To August 5

Orignally published by Islingon Tribune